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Internet, an independence in peak and zamuro

In recent days, in a colloquium in which I participated, an intervention motivated this reflection, it made reference to the principles of the Internet since its creation, such as: freedom, equity, openness, sustainability; Having at least more than three decades passed since the Internet became public and commercial - since the innovation of the www in 1991 - and having reached half a century - since the first network connection in Arpanet, in 1972 -, I the doubt about the validity of those principles. In particular, with the acceleration of the turbulent changes in the Internet of the last two decades, where it passed, in the world, 1.000 million users ‒2005 Our World In Data‒ to today's more than 5.000 billion users. Much water from the river has passed under the bridge.

48 years ago, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, 1996, John Perry Barlow, American cyberactivist and defender of freedom of expression, made his famous declaration of independence of the Internet in response to a legislative initiative known as the Internet Decency Act. Communications, which became part of Title V of the US telecommunications law. This rule was intended to protect consumers from illicit and harmful content, especially children, through blocking and filtering, but it was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Justice on June 26, 1997 for violating the first amendment. To get an idea of ​​what was aspired from the internet, I share some excerpts from the statement: “I come from cyberspace, the new home of the mind…Ours is a world that is everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where they live.” bodies...all can enter without privileges or prejudices granted by race, economic power, military strength or position of birth...Their legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement and context do not apply to us...In our world, anything that the human mind can create can reproduce and distribute itself infinitely at no cost…We will create a civilization of the mind in cyberspace” (Electronic Frontier Foundation, February 8, 1996).

However, currently concerns and threats about the Internet are almost a decade old, for example, there have been concerns about: cybersecurity on the Internet since at least 2016 (Internet Society Global Report -ISGR); the disinformation, fake news and manipulation of information notorious with the media case of Pizzagate 2016; on the consolidation of the Internet economy in a few large transnational and global technology companies alerted by the Internet Society in 2019 (ISGR 2019) and the recent, repetitive and recurring threats of Internet regulation in the United States , resumed in 2015 with the Obama government, in a back and forth between Democrats and Republicans, this time aimed at regulating network neutrality that seeks to standardize broadband access providers as essential or public interest services. In this last aspect, the European Union has already passed two laws: the Digital Services Law (effective from February 17, 2024) and the Digital Markets Law (effective from November 1, 2022).

The questions of rigor

Have you lived through all the evolution and change of the Internet? Do you perceive the Internet as a free, open, egalitarian space to express and exchange your thoughts and to freely dispose of all the information found there? For you Is the Internet a reflection of your physical world, just without borders?

Do you perceive the Internet as a digital space that provides essential services for your daily life, whether at home, at work, at school, among friends and family? Could you live a day or an entire week without the Internet? ? Do you consider the Internet as part of the human right to communications?

Do you usually use one or more search engines? How many application stores (digital repositories) do you usually search? Do you download, play and search for your music on several providers and platforms? Do you have email in a single Internet provider, it offers you capacity to store in the cloud, and all for free? Do you have your own website? What technology company handles your advertising?

Would you like a better quality Internet, without interruptions, faster, affordable and at the same time without any regulation? When the Internet or any of the services offered on it fails, who do you complain to?

Do you see your country on the Internet as a consumer or as a provider or as both? In terms of your country's economy, what weight does the Internet have as a sector? What do you understand by Internet economy?

On the Internet, do you not feel like you belong to any country but rather a citizen of the world?

Do you believe that the Internet requires order, control and coordination? What do you think the actions of an Internet government should be?

Some facts and data to sketch the picture

We review the facts and data revealed in the analyses, surveys and studies carried out by the Internet Society (founded in 1992), recently collected in three articles and five global reports, which will allow an updated approach to where the Internet is going.

.-“The United States takes a dangerous step backwards with respect to the basic principles of the Internet” (Internet Society, 17-11-2023, IS-1)

“…at a recent World Trade Organization meeting, the United States abandoned several principles critical to the development, growth, and success of the Internet, including: Support for cross-border data flows…Opposition to mandatory data localization rules…Opposition to discriminatory data policies…Opposition to national demands to see the source code of foreign companies” (ib.)

Could it be that borders and tolls are beginning to be erected on the Internet?

.- “The bans on specific applications and services are fragmenting the Internet” (13-7-2023, IS-2)

“Increasing government actions to block or ban specific web services or applications are fragmenting the Internet.”

.-According to the Internet Society's Pulse outage monitor (PEE), so far in 2024, until 26/6, there have been 54 internet outages or blocking of services and content, 125 in the last 12 months and 8 in progress on 26/6/2024.

.-The economic impact of outages or blockages can be obtained from the Internet Society's Net Loss Calculator (CPN-IS). Below is the net loss from Internet outages and blockages for some countries, in the period from 1-1-2000 to 26-6-2026

USA, due to content blocking:

Losses: US $168.417 million (ppa) of GDP, US $35.353 million of FDI (Foreign Direct Investment), 117.988 jobs,

Due to internet blackout

Losses: US $637.581 million (ppa) of GDP, US $133.836 million in FDI, 446.671 jobs.

Outage risk is 0,44%


Due to content blocking

Losses: US $184.724 million (ppa) of GDP, US $21.023 million of FDI, 857.873 jobs.

Due to internet blackout

Losses: US $699,313 million (ppa) of GDP, US $79.588 million of FDI, 3.247.664 jobs

Shutdown risk 2,11%


Due to Content Blocking

Losses: US $US $75.067 million (ppa) of GDP, US $5.684 million in FDI, 716.444 jobs.

Due to internet blackout

Losses: US $284.184 million (ppa), US $21.520 million in FDI, 2.715.253 jobs.

Outage risk: 58,67%


By Content Blocking

Losses: US $25.541 million (ppa) of GDP, US $7.769 million of FDI, 785.435 jobs.

Due to Internet blackout

Losses: US $96.694 million (ppa) of GDP, US $29.414 million of FDI, 2.973.433 jobs.

Outage risk: 2,54%


Due to content blocking

Losses: US $3.781 million (ppa) of GDP, US $1.413 million of FDI, 25.828 jobs.

Due to Internet blackout

Losses: US $14.316 million (ppa) of GDP, US $5.352 million of FDI, 97.777 jobs.

Outage risk 2,35%

From the magnitude of the losses, both in GDP and in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and the risk of interruption, one can infer an inequality of the internet economy by country, don't you think?

.- “We have to Defend the Internet and Stop Fragmentation” (7-4-2022, Iseries)

“We cannot let the Internet become a pawn of geopolitics. Politicizing decisions …puts us on the fast track to… – an Internet artificially fragmented according to political, economic and technological borders.” (ib.)

.-”Global Internet Report 2019: Consolidation of the Internet Economy

How will consolidation affect the technical evolution and use of the Internet?” (IGI-IS-2019)

“In the Internet Society report, it asks whether the Internet economy is consolidating and, if so, what the implications might be. From Facebook's dominance in social messaging, Google in search, and Amazon in online shopping, the biggest Internet platforms are capturing critical human interactions. This dominance, and the finances and reach that accompany it, allow platforms to extend their influence and reach new market spaces…This advantage is based on unprecedented network effects, large amounts of user data, business agility and freedom regulation that few companies enjoy.”(ib.) This goes beyond monopolies!

“The Internet economy, as understood in this report, is broadly defined as the economic activities that support the Internet or fundamentally depend on its existence” (ib.) This is not the same as the digital economy.

In its evolutionary process, the Internet stopped being what it was in its beginnings and is moving further and further away from what was proposed in its original conception; It went from being a global network of networks to becoming a network of global access to businesses, platforms and private extraterritorial environments.

It is inferred from the data and facts reviewed that the physical world ended up being inevitably reflected in cyberspace, on the Internet, but for now without rules. The key is given by a sentence in the same declaration of independence of the Internet: “…In our world, all the feelings and expressions of humanity, from the degrading to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole…”

What to do?

.-There are more and more voices calling for regulatory intervention by governments, both the business sector and civil society, as the Internet becomes central to our lives, the dangers and threats increase. This means a 180° turn on the Internet.

.-It would be very useful to determine the real magnitude of the Internet economy and what weight it has in each country in the world, since there have been many expectations of economic prosperity that have been argued in the promotion of Internet development for decades.

.-Whether you are a businessman, an investor, or a ruler, it is necessary to develop an Internet strategy that considers these possible scenarios and allows you to be prudent in your actions, decisions, plans, and policies in this regard.

.-Opportunities are opening up for countries that have not been explored or exploited.

.-I invite you to read the Global Reports on the Internet as soon as they are available in https://www.internetsociety.org/globalinternetreport/.

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